In almost every workplace, hazards abound in several different forms. Typically, the most effective way to safeguard employees is by controlling these hazards at their very source using administrative controls, work practice, and engineering. In case any one of these techniques are not sufficient, then personal protective equipment (PPE) is necessary. One of the most popular forms of protection for your feet is a decent pair of work boots. When selecting your work boots, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that they meet all applicable state and federal safety standards as per the job requirements. Not only does this make a huge difference in injury prevention, but safety standard boots offer the peace of mind you need to keep on working. Before we check out all the advantages of wearing boots that meet or exceed safety standards, what are these safety standards?
Safety Standards Defined
For any work boot to be termed as a safety boot, it needs to meet the minimum standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In the U.S, protective footwear is referenced in the Deprtment of Labor Code of Federal Regultions (CFR) Title 29. Other PPE (personal protective equipment) requirements are provided for in the Occupational Safe and Health Administration Standards (OSHA’s) 1910.132. The foot protection standards and requirements are in 1910.136
According to 29 CFR 1910.136, Each and every employee will be required to use protective foot wear when operating in zones and working areas that involve a degree of danger foot injuries as a result of falling objects or piercing objects from underneath. It also touches on cases where employee’s feet will be exposed to electrical hazards. Further down Appendix B, the clause identifies some occupations where safety boots need to be routinely considered including: carpenters, machinists, electricians, mechanics, repairers, assemblers, packers, wrappers, sawyers, grounds keepers, loggers, stock handlers, warehouse laborers among others. The 29 CFR 1910.136 also incorporates the ASTM Standard Testing Methods for Foot Protection, Standard Specifications for Performance and American National Standard Institute (ANSI). The ASTM has seen lots of application since it offers the most practical form of foot protection requirements.
ASTM F2413- 11 Safety Standards
As of 2005 March, the ASTM standard superseded the ANSI standard. The ASTM standard specification requirement for protective footwear covers the minimal requirements for the performance, design, testing and classiffication of the footwear. This certification should be performed by independent third party labs on behalf of the consumer.
For any footwear to be certified as addressing ASTM F2413- 11 standards, in needs to address the requirements in section 5.1 Impact Resistance and section 5.2 Compression resistance. There are also additional sections about areas like metatarsal protection, static and dissipative protection, puncture protection, and electrical hazard protection. We’ll look into all the requirements and elements of ASTM safety standards and safety ratings later on.
Final Word on Work Boot Safety Standards
By wearing work boots that meet or exceed safety standards, you give your feet the best chance of being better protected in case of an accident. Considering how hazardous the average workplace can be, you can never underestimate the power or tested and approved footwear. Granted that it is never cheap investing in a decent pair of work boots that met both state and federal safety standards, regular trips to the hospital for adverse foot injuries is more expensive. Proper safety boots not only save you from serious leg injuries, but they also allow you to be more confident and decisive on the job. So no matter what type of task you are undertaking or how much you trust your old pair of gumboots, it’s better to buy boots that have been tested and found adequate for your job environment.